Hotel Rwanda hero Paul Rusesabagina’s prison sentence commuted
Paul Rusesabagina, who was portrayed as a hero in the Hollywood film Hotel Rwanda and was serving a 25-year sentence in Rwanda on “terrorism” charges, has had his sentence commuted by presidential order.
The announcement was made by a Rwandan government spokesperson on Friday.
Rusesabagina is expected to be released on Saturday.
He will be initially flown to Qatar’s capital, Doha, and then on to the United States, a government source told Reuters news agency, adding that Rusesabagina was released after he wrote a letter to President Paul Kagame seeking clemency.
Rusesabagina has US permanent residency rights. The US designated him as “wrongly detained”, partly because of what it called the lack of fair trial guarantees in Rwanda.
Rusesabagina became a global celebrity after the release of Hotel Rwanda, which depicted him risking his life to shelter hundreds of people as the manager of a luxury hotel in Kigali during the 1994 genocide when ethnic Hutus killed more than 800,000 people, mostly from the Tutsi minority.
US actor Don Cheadle was nominated for an Oscar for his role as Rusesabagina in the 2004 film.
Rusesabagina later used his fame to highlight what he described as human rights violations by the government of Kagame, a Tutsi rebel commander who took power after his forces captured Kigali and halted the genocide.
This is a breaking story. More to follow.